Under the direction of Ranee Ramaswamy and Aparna Ramaswamy, Ragamala Dance Company's work explores the dynamic tension between the ancestral and the personal. As choreographers and performers, Ranee and Aparna create dance landscapes that dwell in opposition — secular and spiritual life, inner and outer worlds, human and natural concerns, rhythm and stillness — to find the transcendence that lies in between. As mother and daughter, each brings her generational experience to the work — the rich traditions, deep philosophical roots, and ancestral wisdom of India meeting and merging with their hybridic perspective as Indian-American artists.
For the past 30 years, Ranee and Aparna have worked together in an intergenerational creative partnership. Together they have created their own specific sub-genre that combines a contemporary Western aesthetic with an Indian ethos.
Now in its 23rd season, Ragamala has been hailed by The New York Times as "soulful, imaginative and rhythmically contagious," "[Ragamala] showed how Indian forms can provide some of the most transcendent experiences that dance has to offer." The company’s work has been commissioned by the Walker Art Center, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland, the Krannert Center for Performing Arts at the University of Illinois, the Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), and Opening Nights Performing Arts at Florida State University, and has been developed in residence at the Magee Allesee National Center for Choreography (MANCC) and during an NPN residency at The Yard. The company has been recognized with grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, National Dance Project, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, McKnight Foundation, Japan Foundation/New York, Minnesota State Arts Board, USArtists International, New Music/USA, MAP Fund, American Composers Forum, and a 2008 Joyce Award from the Joyce Foundation.
The company has toured extensively, highlighted by the American Dance Festival, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Music Center of Los Angeles, Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, International Festival of Arts & Ideas, University Musical Society at the University of Michigan, Just Festival (Edinburgh, U.K.), Bali Arts Festival (Indonesia), Sri Krishna Gana Sabha (Chennai, India), and National Centre for Performing Arts (Mumbai, India).
Ranee is a 2014 recipient of the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award. Among her many honors are 14 McKnight Artist Fellowships for Choreography and Interdisciplinary Art, a Bush Fellowship for Choreography, a 2011 McKnight Distinguished Artist Award, and a 2012 United States Artists Fellowship. Ranee currently serves on the National Council on the Arts, appointed by President Obama.
Aparna’s choreography and performance have been described as “thrillingly three-dimensional” and “rapturous and profound” (The New York Times) and she was selected as one of Dance Magazine’s "25 to Watch" for 2010. Her awards include three McKnight Artist Fellowships for Dance and Choreography, a Bush Fellowship for Choreography, an Arts and Religion grant funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, choreographic and travel support from the Jerome Foundation and Minnesota State Arts Board, and the Lakshmi Vishwanathan Endowment Prize from Sri Krishna Gana Sabha (Chennai, India). Her solo work, presented with live music, has toured the U.S. and India with support from the National Dance Project and USArtists International, most recently at Narada Gana Sabha in Chennai and the National Centre for Performing Arts in Mumbai. The Joyce Theater in New York is presenting her newest solo piece, They Rose at Dawn, in October of 2015. Aparna is an empaneled artist with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (of the Government of India). She serves on the Board of Trustees of Dance/USA.